Kathleen McClung is the author of four poetry collections: Temporary Kin, The Typists Play Monopoly, Almost the Rowboat, and A Juror Must Fold in on Herself, winner of the 2020 Rattle Chapbook Prize. Her work appears widely in journals and anthologies including Southwest Review, Naugatuck River Review, Mezzo Cammin, Ekphrasis, Atlanta Review, Spillway, California Quarterly, Forgotten Women, Fire and Rain: Ecopoetry of California, and elsewhere. Winner of the Rita Dove, Morton Marr, Shirley McClure, and Maria W. Faust national poetry prizes, she is a Pushcart and Best of the Net nominee. Kathleen teaches at Skyline College, The Writing Salon, and the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) in San Francisco. For ten years she directed Women on Writing: WOW! Voices Now on the Skyline campus, celebrating creativity in writers of all ages. In 2018-2019 she was a writer-in-residence at Friends of the San Francisco Public Library. Currently she serves as guest editor for The MacGuffin and associate director of the Soul-Making Keats literary competition.
Poem on Belonging
ACROSS AND DOWN
He smoked a pipe and read the Mercury but saved the crossword page for her. At dawn she wrestled with small, numbered squares. Her poetry— her home, three sons, two daughters, a family she made with George. She could depend upon him, smoking pipes and reading. Mercury winked out beside the moon each day as she put water on to boil and wept for her son John. She wrestled with small, numbered squares half-heartedly in a half-dark bungalow until, hungry, four children woke. One flipped the light switch on. George smoked a pipe and read. Both Mercury and scarlet fever—gods of thieves and trickery— had flown through every house, and paused, then gone. She wrestled with small, numbered squares. No poetry they read in church, no hymns they sang off-key could bring full light. They kept the curtains drawn. He smoked a pipe and read the Mercury, she wrestled with small, empty squares—her poetry. for John Calvin McClung, 1946-1949
Copyright © 2022 by Kathleen McClung. Used with permission of the author.